In the year of the wide receiver, the Pittsburgh Steelers have redefined success

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08: Antonio Brown
PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08: Antonio Brown /

The NFL has an over abundance of talent at wide receiver, and every in the league wants to take advantage except for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Not only have the Pittsburgh Steelers been incredibly boring during this year’s free agency (something they do every year), but they’re redefining what it means to have a talented group of players.

While the rest of the league consistently looks to the free agent market to scrape up the remaining headlines before training camp, Pittsburgh sits back and forgets that there are still players available. Heck, when names like Vincent Jackson, Stevie Johnson, Eddie Royal and Doral Green-Beckham still available this close to training camp, a full moon must be out.

The Steelers are in a boat no other team is in, though. While the Dallas Cowboys look to replace Lucky Whitehead, and multiple other teams still search for the missing piece in their passing game, Pittsburgh tries to figure out which player who should make the 53-man roster, won’t.

Pittsburgh is in this unique stage where their receiving core has developed into the best in the league. Not only do their starting two, Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant, blow almost any other starting core out of the water, but they have two slot guys competing for the job who would easily start on virtually any team in the NFL.

Guys like Sammie Coates, Justin Hunter, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Demarcus Ayers are all competing to stay off a practice squad when on 31 of the 32 teams in the league, they would almost be guaranteed a spot in the top four or five receivers.

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Yes, there are teams like the New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Cincinnati Bengals that all have incredible receiving cores. But their practice squad wouldn’t be competing for the third or fourth depth chart spot on teams like the Cleveland Browns. Pittsburgh’s would.

That’s what redefined success means. While the rest of the league has their core three or four receivers, Pittsburgh has their core seven or eight.

To top it all off, they have the league’s best wideout in Antonio Brown leading the way. Right from the very top, Pittsburgh reigns supreme. Then, you go through the stages and find yourself at the practice squad, where more than likely, Sammie Coates will headline the team. For someone who would be competing for the backup outside receiver on almost any team, Coates isn’t even valued in Pittsburgh.

Just another example of how the Steelers have somehow turned their receivers into a group far above the rest of the pack.

What makes this so special, is that Pittsburgh has done it through development. Instead of going out and signing big name receivers like other teams, the Steelers have drafted all of their first four receivers and turned them into superstars.

Outside of Hunter and Heyward-Bey, this team doesn’t have wideouts competing for the roster that hasn’t started their career in the Steel City. If Coates wasn’t going to miss the beginning of training camp, they’d likely only have one active receiver come Week 1 who wasn’t a draft pick.

How they’ve done it? No one knows. But somehow, the Steelers have claimed their spot at the top of the wide receiver world.

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They definitely haven’t done it like most of the league has, but it doesn’t matter. What the Pittsburgh Steelers have done in a year where wide receivers are plentiful is unheard of.

The NFL is thriving with wideouts, but in the year of the wideout, the Pittsburgh Steelers have emerged superior.